Driver’s seat no place for cell phones
by Jack McNeely
May 20, 2012 | 692 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
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On the way home the other evening I witnessed a driver of a white work truck clearly engaged in texting and driving. It did not take long before the truck swerved into the oncoming lane as it exited a curve. I can only image what would have happened had another vehicle been approaching.

After blowing my horn and raising my left arm out the window in disgust, the driver apparently realized his error and regained control of the vehicle.

Then we published the story Wednesday about the 16-year-old girl who fatally struck a jogger in Norwalk, Conn., March 24. She’s been charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle after turning herself in more than a month after the fatal hit-and-run accident.

“We tried to convey just how this incident illustrates how dangerous it is to be distracted while driving a 3,500-pound vehicle 35 to 40 mph,” Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling said.

Nearly 5,500 people across the country were killed in crashes involving driver distraction in 2009 and another 448,000 people were injured, according to the latest figures analyzed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley recently signed into a law new legislation that makes it a crime to text and drive. “It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to know that you can’t text and drive at the same time,” Bentley said after signing the bill.

The new law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, prohibits sending text messages, instant messages and emails while operating a motor vehicle. It unfortunately does not prohibit dialing a phone.

The bill includes a fine of $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $75 for a third or subsequent offense. Each offense is a two-point violation on a person’s driving record.

My 16-year-old daughter will take her driver’s test here in late June. My penalty for using a cell phone while driving altogether is much more severe — the loss of driving privileges. If she does not want mommy or daddy dropping her off at school every morning, then she will leave her cell phone in her purse while driving.

Meanwhile, Alabama will become the 38th state to prohibit texting and driving.

Public Safety Department Director Col. Hugh McCall said sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eye off the road for 4.6 second on average — enough for a car going 55 mph to travel the length of a football field.

While cell phones obviously offer many conveniences in today’s mobile world, they have no place in the driver’s seat. If you must check messages or place a call, please pull off the road prior to dialing or texting.

Jack McNeely is Publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be reached by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at jack.mcneely@mountaineagle.com.