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Sending a message about text messaging while driving

By Gary Lloyd

I don’t believe you got my message in January.

I guess you were too busy with a (text) message of your own.

I wrote in a column in an issue that month that every time I leave the house, I startle another driver’s attention away from the cell phone and back to the road so he or she can maneuver back across the double-yellow lines into their own lane.

I wrote that I was scared to leave the house, that distracted motorists these days provide me an incentive to stay inside. I referenced an example I witnessed in our coverage area. There were many more I didn’t write about.

Well, here we are again.

Gary Lloyd
file photo

Last week, I was driving on Service Road, headed toward the Trussville Civic Center. I was coming up on Old Quarry Road, when, per usual, I instinctively pressed down on my horn. A black truck was more on my side of the road than his. The driver was looking down, and when he looked up, he jerked his truck back to his side of the road with just his right hand. His left hand was too busy holding a cell phone.

On Aug. 1, 2012, a state texting while driving law, which states that a person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send or read a text-based communication, went into effect. Gov. Robert Bentley said the law “sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving — not on sending a text.”

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that texting while driving creates a crash risk that is 23 times greater than when a driver is not distracted. Also, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. For a driver going 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field.

The fine for violating the law is $25 for a first-time offense, $50 for a second offense and $75 for a third or subsequent offense. Also, for each offense, a two-point violation will be placed on the offender’s driving record.

The Trussville Police Department has written nine tickets for this offense since Aug. 1, 2012. The law is a tough one to enforce, to prove.

I can’t tell you how many people I see in our coverage area looking down at a cell phone instead of on the road, reading “LOL” on a tiny screen instead of “STOP” on a big red sign. I also can’t tell you how many people I see in the same area who apparently don’t know the difference between a green light and a red light.

Are you so overextended, so late for getting to work or to the grocery store or home, that you have to zoom through red lights when the other line of traffic has started to proceed? Really?

Is that text message that much more important than others’ lives? Seriously?

I certainly hope not.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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