Friday, August 20, 2010

Fine drivers who text

The city of Twin Falls has done what the Legislature failed to do this year—enact a law against text messaging while driving.

A $50 fine in the Twin Falls ordinance is not that painful, but certainly makes a few tweeted words expensive and could help stave off a growing cause of highway accidents.

Blaine County and its cities should consider a similar law.

At least 20 states and the District of Columbia now have total bans on text messaging while driving. Another nine ban the practice among "novice drivers."

Distracted and inattentive driving have become major factors in highway accidents nationally. In Idaho, 19 percent of all single-vehicle accidents were caused by inattentive or distracted driving, while 25 percent of two-vehicle accidents were blamed on drivers' taking their eyes and minds off the steering wheel.

Just this week, celebrity cosmetic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan died instantly and was added to the gruesome toll of texting accidents when his Jeep Wrangler tumbled off the Pacific Coast Highway while he is believed to have been text messaging. In 2008, 5,870 persons died in accidents blamed on distractions, including texting.

Accident statistics are overwhelmingly persuasive about texting dangers. For example, a drunk driver travels four additional feet before stopping while driving 35 mph. But a driver who's texting travels another 25 feet before stopping.

If even a single life is spared because of a local anti-texting law, Blaine County's governments will have performed a noble service.

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