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Friday, April 2, 2010

“txtng and drivng cn’t wait.”

I suppose AT&T’s efforts to curb texting while driving is a start. They have a Facebook! A start in much the same way age verification works to stops kids from entering websites for beer and spirits. Sorry if I don’t believe the message from the CW’s Katie Cassidy and Michael Rady, but the three people on cells who blew through stop signs today are making me a non-believer. Even though Connecticut considers increasing penalties for not using hands-free devices, it comes down to enforcement.

Some officers think the fines should be based on the severity of the infraction, and think that lowering them would actually result in more tickets because they would feel less bad about nailing someone with a huge fine. I go back to this: If current PSA messaging about texting and driving warns about potentially fatal consequences, then the penalties need to be on par with those for drinking while driving.

If someone thought they would lose their phone on the spot, their license for six months, or have to pay a fine in the thousands, I’m guessing the near-miss incidents of distracted drivers would drop significantly. Unrealistic? Why? Those ideas are actually less harsh than the current DWI laws here in Connecticut.

If harsher penalties aren’t a deterrent and I’m wrong, then ask yourself why you don’t go out tonight drinking and driving. Because... why again? That’s right, the penalties! (Just shout ’em out when you know the answer.) You don’t drink and drive because you know how screwed your life would be if you got caught.

So why is it unreasonable then to apply stricter standards to something as potentially dangerous to others as using a cell phone while driving?

Will increased penalties stop the hardcore user? Likely not. People still drink and drive too, despite the warnings. But, awareness for DWI is up based in no small part on the stiff penalties now in place. Doing more for cell use would go a long way to cutting down on those people who need just a little more incentive than they currently have. (All of this is moot though without enforcement, because then people will continue to think they can get way with it.)

Or, ask yourself if the current $100 dollar fine is worth someone you love being killed by an asshole on a cell.

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