Hang up and drive, please In Our Opinion

Please, by all means, don’t let a little thing like driving get in the way of your phone conversation. Well, now you have to. On July 1, a new law went into effect — but apparently there are some special people to whom it does not apply. As on July 1 it became illegal — meaning against the law, a no-no, breaking-the-rules-type against the law — to talk on a cell phone without using a hands-free device while driving. That law also made it an infraction to text while driving.

Text-message? While driving?

That this law was even necessary, or at least the text-messaging part, is a frightening reality. It would seem that a little thing called “common sense,” or at least the acknowledgment that there are other people in the world and on the road who might be affected by a driver’s inattentiveness, would prevent texting while driving.

But no, the bill actually had to travel through the legislative system. The Washington state legislators actually had to waste their time telling people not to text and drive. Because people were doing it.

Dumb. It’s just dumb.

It’s the same mentality that forces local governments to put up signs like “Don’t feed the alligators.” Because someone, somewhere, did it and got hurt. Then governments had to step in and let others know not to do it, too. Thanks, Stumpy.

Texting and driving baffles the mind. It’s difficult to imagine what sort of messages would be so important that they can’t wait a few minutes for either the driver to get home or to pull over to the side of the road.

As for those who prefer to talk on their phone sans hands-free devices, stop for a moment and ponder this question, if you will. Is your phone conversation worth the life of everyone else on the road?

By dividing your attention between the phone call and whatever unfortunate souls are on the road in front, behind and beside you, you’re clearly answering that question in the affirmative.

But there is hope. Maybe.

According to story a in the Herald’s sister paper, the Central Kitsap Reporter, drivers are finally getting the message. And it’s not via their cell phones.

Since the cell phone law took effect, Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for WSP District 8, said about 542 motorists have seen the blue-and-red whirlies in their rear view mirrors. Of those, 195 received tickets and/or written and verbal warnings. Here in Kitsap, the law has produced 13 tickets and three warnings.

The law is a secondary infraction, meaning it can’t be the sole reason for a driver to be pulled over. They’ve got to be speeding, swerving or some other such nonsense to get pulled over. If they’re talking on the phone while they drive, they are probably fully engaged in said nonsense.

How sad it is that there had to be a law to make people think twice about endangering others.

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