Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Make them hang up and drive


Idaho’s statewide ban on texting and driving went into effect in July, but the new law missed the target of reducing distracted driving by miles. With the danger of driving and using a cell phone undiminished and public aggravation growing, it’s time for cities or counties to take action.

The texting ban garnered attention in a state where lawmakers had resolutely ignored scientific studies that found the effects of distracted driving to be as great as those of driving while intoxicated. But merely calling attention to the problem hasn’t solved it.

The texting ban is so weak that it’s likely that punishment for violators won’t come into play unless a driver is involved in an accident and evidence is discovered that shows that the driver was texting at the time of the accident. That’s too late.

The Legislature left it to law enforcement officers to try to determine which of the drivers with a cell phone in hand is texting as opposed to doing something legal like voice dialing, conducting a phone call or recording ideas for the book they’re going to write.

The Legislature left pedestrians and other drivers to play defense with distracted drivers. That’s not good enough.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010, a total of 3,092 people died in “distraction-affected” crashes. An additional 410,000 were injured in such crashes. Drivers involved were texting, phoning or answering a call while driving.

If that many people had been killed in a terrorist attack on American soil there would be a noisy uprising of public sentiment that would change the laws fast.

It’s clear that for some of the most dangerous drivers in America—the ones on cell phones—appealing to personal responsibility doesn’t work. If it did, it would be a rare thing to see a driver talking on a cell phone.

If great numbers of drivers were to proceed down our highways and through our towns tossing their empty beer cans out the window within view of traffic cops, it’s a good bet that the phones of public officials would ring incessantly until something was done. Yet, drivers on cell phones are getting a free pass.

Counties and municipalities have the right to control traffic within their boundaries. Before the Idaho Legislature got around to banning texting, a handful of Idaho cities had beat state leaders to the punch. The Legislature needs to feel the pressure again.

Blaine County and its five cities should help build pressure by banning driving and using cell phones. If enough cities enact bans, maybe legislators will finally get the message. In the meantime, people living and visiting our area would be a lot safer.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.